[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
January 22, 1982

Old Problems With New Names

JAMA. 1982;247(4):463. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320290013016

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


To the Editor.—  Recently we have seen three patients who received cefoxitin (Mefoxin) instead of the newly released cephalosporin cefotaxime (Claforan) because of unfamiliarity with cefotaxime and the similar spelling of their generic names. In all instances, the consultant suggested the use of cefotaxime for infections owing to Gram-negative bacilli resistant to other cephalosporins. The use of cefotaxime had been directly discussed with the attending physicians and had been clearly written on the consultation sheets. In one case, the order had been written illegibly so that the pharmacy sent cefoxitin instead of cefotaxime. Another patient received cefoxitin because the house officer writing the order had never heard of cefotaxime and because of the similarity in spelling thought the consultant meant cefoxitin. For the third patient, the pharmacy misread the order.With the proliferation of the cephalosporins and related antimicrobials, similar errors may occur at other hospitals. When using cefotaxime, such